Nowstalgia Alert

How the Disco Ball Went From a Nightclub Staple to TikTok’s Latest Decor Obsession

More fairytale, less funky town
The artworks by Studio Rotganzen melt into the decor of Kelly Wearstlers home in Malibu California.
The artworks by Studio Rotganzen melt into the decor of Kelly Wearstler’s home in Malibu, California.Photo: Mark Durling

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A few months ago my roommate came home with a cantaloupe-size disco ball, placed it on a shelf near the window, and waited for the sun to shed flecks of confetti light around the living room. Once I was primed to notice them, disco balls seemed to appear everywhere on my social media, from DIY projects to fine art objects, channeling an aura of whimsy and lending pre-packaged joy to any space.

Traditionally designed for public gathering spaces, the disco ball is now gracing our homes in greater numbers, sometimes to the point of beautiful, shiny obsession, as seen here in the Disco Loft. But why is this ’70s icon back in vogue? When asked, many people tend to return to the simple notion of it being pretty or making them smile. Or as Lina Shamoon, the artist behind Mirrors by Lina, creator of the original Disco Mirror, and a 2021 Etsy Design Awards finalist, sums it up: “Everyone thinks disco balls are good vibes.” Disco balls, those illustrious domes of nightlife glory, are dripping with positive associations of freedom and fun, fostering the kind of space that is not just functional but delightful.

The disco ball takes center stage at Dream Loft Studios.

Photo: Rachel Martino

Unlike their nightclub counterparts, stay-at-home disco balls tend not to employ automation or lighting technology, but instead harness the power of the sun for their light shows, resulting in a toned down aesthetic—more fairytale, less funky town. When sunbeams hit them, the disco tiles amplify and refract the light, creating an immersive sensory experience. This magic is doled out daily, creating a sense of both rarity and synchronicity. “When golden hour hits in my home, my disco ball definitely gives me a serotonin boost,” Aarica Nichole, a vintage seller and digital creator, states in an email.

Frankie Simmons echoed this sentiment in a TikTok that features a disco ball twirling in a domestic scene near a set of windows, casting light dots out into the space. The text over the video reads: “My serotonin is store bought and I got it at party city.” Over email, Frankie explains that disco balls speak to her younger audience on a journey of “self discovery and healing.” She speculates that people desire reminders that beauty and fun do exist in the world. They help “make your space feel like a happy place to be doing things that are hard and important,” says Frankie.

While this isn’t the disco ball’s first foray into the home, the object of fascination is definitely having a moment as interior decor trends shift away from the austere minimalism of the past and toward a more maximalist and free-form future. Disco balls align with trends that celebrate nostalgic ’70s decor, thrifting, DIY projects, and party decor as home decor. “People are embracing color and fun, which makes me so happy,” says Rachel Martino, founder of Dream Loft Studios in Brooklyn, New York, where she proudly displays a 24" disco ball.

Rachel Shillander’s signature Disco Chair lights up the room.

Photo: Rachel Shillander

The resurgence of interest in disco balls may in part be attributed to Studio Rotganzen and its 2021 collaboration with AD Hall of Fame designer Kelly Wearstler. Rotganzen’s first “melting disco ball” objet d’art, titled Quelle Fête, was created in 2012, and has since inspired copycats and DIY projects emulating the artwork. While recent press from outlets including Architectural Digest and Vogue has added to the uptick in exposure, Rotganzen’s Erik Schilp argues that “as far as our art is concerned, they are quite timeless.” He describes the disco ball as a nostalgic icon, noting how Quelle Fête is “a playful representation of past glory and a melancholic reminder of the glamour nights in clubs like Studio 54, Paradise Garage and The Roxy.” He adds, “It is also a very visual metaphor of times gone by and the loss of imagined innocence.”

Los Angeles–based artist Rachel Shillander wasn’t initially inspired by disco balls when she debuted the Disco Chair in 2020. Instead it started as “an experiment in anti-materiality.” As she further explains, “Mirror is the anti-material, reflecting the materiality of everything around it, but not having a visual materiality of its own.” Rachel, who also describes herself as the “disco sweetheart of the cosmic rodeo,” was trying to make the chairs disappear into their environment, but when she placed them in the sun she discovered the disco effect in full force. “The chair became an object that was able to talk (or dance) with the sun,” she says.

“I think what we are currently seeing is the evolution of the established genre,” Rachel continues. “Artists and designers are just borrowing it from the nightclub, and putting it in our daily lives and homes.”

Mushroom disco balls deliver a glamorous take on mushroom-inspired decor.

Photo: Sofie Berarducci

Social media, especially TikTok, has accelerated that evolution by giving everyone a platform to show off their interior decor style and DIY hacks, and the disco ball has come along for the ride. While fine art pieces like those from Rotganzen sell for as much as €14,000, those looking for a quick disco fix can purchase a foam and plastic version for as little as $7. “I think it has become a bit oversaturated,” admits Camille Nichelini, cofounder of Resident Objects in Los Angeles. That said, she doesn’t think that means people should stop enjoying disco balls, emphasizing that “just because it’s trendy, that doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing.”

Camille keeps her disco ball hanging from the ceiling after accidentally breaking a few that were rolling untethered around her floor. Aarica also attached hers to the ceiling, accessorizing it with a yellow chain link and color-blocked green and pink hook clips from Lowes. Others have opted for tucking their disco balls into shelves, sitting them in unoccupied chairs, or moving them around to catch the light. As for artists, DIY creators, independent businesses, and Etsy sellers like GoodDoggieShop and Sofiest Designs, they’re going beyond the traditional orb to find expanded possibilities for the tiled mirrors, creating disco-inspired planters, mushrooms, letters, globes, mannequin heads, and more.

In one form or another, disco balls are here to stay, adding a little extra sparkle wherever they go. “It’s kind of like sprinkles on a cake,” concludes Aarica. “It’s not necessary, but it makes it look better.”

Mini Disco Mirror Ball

8" Mirror Disco Ball

The Original Mushroom Disco Ball

Good Doggie Disco Cherries

Disco Mirror Wavy Mirror Dream Mirror Retro Mirror

Kelly Wearstler X Rotganzen - Malibu